India, Pakistan delay talks after air base attack


New Delhi (AFP)

India and Pakistan said Thursday they have postponed talks after a fatal attack on an Indian air base that New Delhi blames on a banned Pakistan-based group.

Islamabad said the talks were being "rescheduled", a day after it announced the arrest of several Jaish-e-Mohammed militants in an apparent effort to mollify its neighbour.

Neither side specified, however, a new date for when the talks would take place.

The January 2 assault on the Pathankot air base came just days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi became the first Indian leader to visit Pakistan in 11 years, raising hopes of a softening in relations between the nuclear-armed rivals.

There had been fears it could derail talks between the foreign secretaries of the two countries that had been tentatively scheduled for this week.

But Indian foreign ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup said talks would take place in the "very near future".

"The foreign secretary spoke to his Pakistani counterpart today and will set a date for the talks in the near future," he said at a media briefing.

Asked whose ball the court was now in, he replied in Hindi, "when the husband and wife are willing, who is the priest to interfere", indicating the talks would go ahead.

Swarup welcomed the arrests and said India would work with a team of investigators Pakistan is sending to Pathankot, near the border between the two countries.

Jaish-e-Mohammed was set up to fight Indian rule in Kashmir.

Pakistan banned the group in 2002, the year after it was blamed for an attack on the Indian parliament that took the two neighbours to the brink of war.

It arrested the group's leader in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, but he was later released.